A Lucrative Porcelain Production Operation
Built upon the foundation of Italy’s Florim Group, Florim USA has been committed to creating innovative, timeless and sustainable porcelain products since 2001. With a 1.2 million-square-foot factory located in Clarksville, TN, the company is dedicated to providing high-end products that are made in the U.S. with a unique Italian style.
In the beginning of 2018, the company decided to re-brand under the name Milestone, which means “a stone that marks the mile,” according to company officials. However, the name holds a much deeper meaning, signifying an essential step in the company’s journey, somewhat of a landmark, with goals of achieving much more in the future. It’s a new starting point for the American brand, a change that is crucial for the continued success of the Italian-based company.
Although the name has changed, their mission certainly hasn’t. The “loyalty” to continue to provide their customers with the same design innovation and technical know-how is displayed in the stylized “L” in the Milestone logo, which is also seen in the Florim logo.
At the Clarksville facility, which stretches as far as the eye can see — a half-mile from end to end, to be exact — Milestone has the capability of producing 140 million square feet of tile annually, according to Don Haynes, environmental manager at Milestone.
The production space consists of six operations: body preparation, glaze preparation, press, glazing, kiln and selection. The process is considered “closed-loop,” with all waste generated throughout the six operations recycled back through the system.
Contributing to its sustainable initiatives, all materials are sourced within 500 miles of the plant, with the exception of a Turkish feldspar that is sourced directly from Turkey. “Using locally sourced materials and producing locally made products is a large focus of ours,” Haynes said.
Milestone utilizes several recycled and locally sourced materials in their raw materials, including an industrial recycled material from Little Rock, AK, and local ball clays from Tennessee.
“We recycle 99.9% of things in-house, and if not, we make 2cm outdoor pavers out of it,” Haynes said. “We use 60,000 pounds a week of recycled TV glass, which is substituted as sand to use as raw material. We also take glass bottles from local landfills. We are the only company doing this.”
The tiles produced at the facility contain 55% recycled content. There are 40 different profiles available for wood, stone and other industrial-inspired looks; the largest tile size produced is 24 x 48 inches. The company also offers a “super shine” finish, in addition to polished and matte finishes, which is created through an intricate process that adds nanoparticles of silica into little holes in the tile’s surface so it’s stain-resistant and non-porous.